The next big choice you have to make in regards to outfitting a precision rifle is deciding whether to use a traditional stock or a chassis system. Whichever option you chose, your decision should be well thought out and informed. There are many things to consider but we will discuss only a few things in Part 3 of this series.
Understand that this part is your physical interface with the rifle. Your ability to maintain proper position and head alignment behind the rifle is highly dependent on how it fits. It also houses the components of your rifle. The accuracy and consistency of your rifle is conditional to its mounting surfaces and rigidity.
Most traditional stocks have a fixed length of pull and comb height. While chassis systems are adjustable. Length of pull is the distance from the middle of the trigger to the end of the rifle’s buttstock. The comb is the top portion of the stock where you place your cheek.
These two measurements are what determines your position and head alignment behind the rifle. Too long of a length of pull will force you to offset your body from the rifle rather than be behind it. Your recoil management and bolt manipulation will suffer as a result. Too low of a comb height will force you to lift your head off the stock in order to see through the scope. Your sight alignment and sight picture will suffer as a result.
Length of pull and comb height adjustability on a chassis system:
At an additional cost, higher end traditional stocks can be purchased with adjustable length of pull and comb height. Nonadjustable ones can be modified with additional parts as well. Below is an example.
McMillan A3 stock with adjustable length of pull and comb height:
Take in to account what material the traditional stock or chassis system is made of and its construction. It should be rigid so that the action of the rifle does not shift upon recoil. The fore end should not flex causing the barrel channel to touch the barrel affecting harmonics.
Lower end stocks are notorious for being too flexy. Take for example the Hogue Overmold stock that comes with a Remington 700 SPS. It is made of polymer with two aluminum pillar mount blocks to mount the action. Since there is minimal additional support and material all around, the fore end flexes under load when the shooter is in the prone position. This would be a poor choice.
Hogue Overmold stock: